Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 18, 2009

The University of California at Los Angeles and Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a former student who was repeatedly stunned with a Taser by UCLA police while a student in 2006, have settled a suit against the university, the two parties announced. The incident took place when Tabatabainejad failed to produce an ID card. While UCLA officials said at the time that the use of the Taser was appropriate, many who saw videos of the incident were outraged and the university subsequently toughened its rules about when Taser shots would be used. The statement about the agreement was vague about terms. "The parties decided to resolve this matter in a way that will allow this student to complete his UCLA degree and move forward with his career. The university is committed to ensuring the safety of its student body, but it is also interested in assisting its students in succeeding in their post-university endeavors," the statement said. The Los Angeles Times reported that the settlement involves a $220,000 payment to Tabatabainejad.

May 18, 2009

Brandeis continues to maintain that its art museum's future has yet to be determined. But when it closed Sunday, it may have been the last time it was open to the public with temporary exhibits for which it is well known and with a full curatorial staff, The Boston Globe reported. Many visitors on Sunday wanted to see the art while the museum was functioning fully, and expressed dismay at the university's consideration of plans to sell the collection.

May 18, 2009

The Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, is considered a purchase of BPP, the only for-profit higher education entity in Britain with degree-granting authority, The Times Higher reported. Both government officials and educators in Britain view the potential purchase as significant, as it could be a springboard for Apollo's ambitions in the country.

May 18, 2009

For most of the academic year that just ended, Lambuth University has experienced administrative turnover and evidence of severe financial problems. Now, for the second month in a row, the university has failed to make payroll on time, The Jackson Sun reported. University officials said that a wire transfer was delayed, making it impossible to meet payroll on time, but that they hoped to be only a week late.

May 18, 2009

The former girlfriend of Mike Burden -- until recently associate head coach of the University of Maine men's basketball team -- says she warned the university that he posed a danger unless he received counseling, The Bangor Daily News reported. Burden resigned last week after being charged with unlawful sexual conduct with one woman and assault against another who was trying to help the first woman. The coach's former girlfriend posted her story as a comment on the newspaper's story about the charges that were issued against Burden. A university spokesman confirmed that the letter had been received and said that Burden's supervisors discussed it with him, but declined to discuss whether any actions were taken as a result of the letter.

May 18, 2009

A statue of President James A. Garfield was decapitated last week, shortly after it was placed in a prominent location at Hiram College. The Record-Courier reported that the statue dates to 1914, and was recently brought to the campus after a trustee found it. The statue was placed in front of the college's Garfield Institute for Public Leadership, and the head was apparently removed sometime between 10 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday. The Record-Courier article features before and after photographs. Garfield attended the college and later taught there.

May 18, 2009

For all the raised voices (and a few arrests) over President Obama's appearance at the graduation ceremony of the University of Notre Dame Sunday, he was well received by the graduates and the audience, who gave the president repeated ovations. At one point early in the speech, hecklers shouted, but they were quieted. Obama spoke at length about the role of Notre Dame -- and of the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, its legendary former president, who was in the audience -- as an inspiring force in American society. Most of the criticism of Obama's appearance came from anti-abortion groups who said that the university was abandoning its Roman Catholic traditions by honoring a president who defends abortion rights. The Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, noted the controversy in his introductory remarks, and explicitly said that the Catholic teachings differ from the president's views on abortion and stem cell research. But Father Jenkins praised Obama, and noted that he had accepted the invitation to Notre Dame even knowing that not all of his views are shared there. In his remarks, Obama noted the differences of views on abortion, but called for Americans to consider the views of those with whom they disagree on the issue. "Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved," he said. The text of Obama's address may be found here.

May 18, 2009

Just after the last diploma was presented Saturday at the commencement of Green Mountain College, a small group of students streaked across the stage, with bandanas or masks as their only clothing, The Rutland Herald reported. While audience members -- especially trustees on stage who received the best views -- appeared surprised, the newspaper suggests that perhaps they should not have been. Streakers appeared last year so it appears that this may be a tradition in the making. A college spokesman told the newspaper: "Well, freedom of expression is part of a college experience.... What we are really concerned with is teaching the sorts of values spoken about today like environmental sustainability and that's something our students take very seriously."

May 15, 2009

Students at Newnham College, part of the University of Cambridge, have rewritten a Latin Grace said before the weekly formal meals where they dine together, and more than a few eyebrows have been raised as a result, The Times of London reported. According to the Times, the prayer has been said as: “Benedic nobis Domine Deus et his donis quae de liberalitate tua sumpturi sumus per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.” (Translation: “Bless us Lord God and bless these gifts which by your generosity we are about to eat, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.") The new version, prepared to be more inclusive of students from many faiths, is as follows: “Pro cibo inter esurientes, pro comitate inter desolatos, pro pace inter bellantes, gratias agimus." (The translation: “For food in a hungry world, for companionship in a world of loneliness, for peace in an age of violence, we give thanks.") Mary Beard, a Cambridge classics professor who blogs for the Times, has published a critique of the new language. Beard writes that "the undergraduates' rewrite was a classic case of disguising a load of well meaning platitudes in some posh dead language, which was actually an insult to that dead language."

May 15, 2009

The College Board is postponing plans to introduce a standardized test for eighth graders -- a test that the board said would promote rigor in high school and that critics said wasn't justified educationally but was just a money-making tool for the organization. The College Board announced plans for the new exam -- ReadiStep -- in October. Word that the test has been put off -- due to the economy -- surfaced Thursday when The Big Money, a division of Slate, published a highly critical article about the various ways that the College Board makes what the article called "gobstopping amounts of money" off of students. The article cited ReadiStep's launch as another way to make money, and the online magazine corrected that assertion after being informed by the College Board that it had decided to postpone the new test.

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